The Aokigahara Suicide Forest
The Aokigahara forest has the unfortunate distinction as the world’s second most popular place to take one’s life. The first is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Since the 1950s, depressed Japanese citizens have wandered in, and at least 1000 of them haven’t wandered out. In 2002, 78 bodies were found within the forest, exceeding the previous record of 74 in 1998. In 2003, the rate climbed to 100, and in recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara’s association with suicide. In 2004, 108 people killed themselves in the forest. In 2010, 247 people attempted suicide in the forest, 54 of whom completed the act.
Japanese spiritualists believe that the suicides committed in the forest have permeated Aokigahara’s trees, generating paranormal activity and preventing many who enter from escaping the forest’s depths. Complicating matters further is the common experience of compasses being rendered useless by the rich deposits of magnetic iron in the area’s volcanic soil.
Due to the vastness of the forest, desperate visitors are unlikely to encounter anyone once inside the so-called “Sea of Trees,” so the police have mounted signs reading “Your life is a precious gift from your parents,” and “Please consult the police before you decide to die!” on trees throughout the forest.
The place has long been associated with death. Ubasute, literally translates to ”abandoning an old woman.” Ubasute may have been practiced there into the 19th century, and the forest is reputedly haunted by the Yurei (angry spirits) of those left to die.